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Three Thanksgiving Thoughts: Red Wings Fans’ Faith Being Rewarded

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The Detroit Red Wings 3-0 victory over the Nashville Predators Wednesday night was a night of thankfulness for many. Maybe none more than the fanbase.

The Red Wings are five games over .500 at Thanksgiving for the first time since 2014-15 when they were 12-5-5. It’s a marker that for many shows whether a team is legitimate or not. After Ville Husso’s theft of a game to Filip Hronek‘s dazzling offensive production, the Red Wings and their fans are experiencing a lot of gratitude as November nears a close.

Red Wings Fans Faith Being Rewarded

Though the rebuild itself wasn’t officially started until general manager Steve Yzerman took over, the Red Wings Stanley Cup contender window started closing the last time they were at least five games over .500. Once Pavel Datsyuk walked away, so too did any realistic chance Detroit had of advancing deep into the playoffs.

From there, it was a rebuild on the fly, which resulted in a five game series loss to Tampa in 2016, trading players away for draft capital, and then draft lottery disappointments. Once Yzerman arrived, the true, painful version of many more losses than wins began.

But the shrewd moves Yzerman and the front office made in the draft, free agency, and through trades are beginning to come to fruition. The players Yzerman retained from former general manager Ken Holland’s drafts have also been major players in Detroit’s improvement.

There’s still a lot of hockey to be played. It’s been a long wait for Red Wings fans to see their team not only competitive, but returning to former glory.

But this Thanksgiving, Detroit finds itself in a very strong spot for playoff consideration. Fans endured some brutal seasons but the faith shown is being rewarded.

Filip Hronek is Raising His Game While Silencing Doubters

It wasn’t long ago that Hronek was a favorite trade target for pundits, analysts, and even some fans. A brutal -29 during the 2021-22 season, and the rise of Moritz Seider clouded what was a quietly strong offensive output with 38 points (5-33).

What a difference a year makes.

Hronek has often been the forgotten man–he was Detroit’s second round pick in 2016. That draft is remembered more for Datsyuk’s contract being dealt as well as the first round choice of Dennis Cholowski. But the extra pick acquired in the trade was used on him.

No one is forgetting him or doubting him now. Hronek has surged offensively and been a huge part of Detroit’s success this season. Captain Dylan Larkin is one of many taking notice.

“Kind of goes about his business, someone that never gets too high, never gets too low,” Larkin said.  “Pretty great stretch he’s on right now, five goals, no empty-netters. He’s on a great roll right now.”

Plucking Magnus Hellberg Off Waivers Reveals Detroit’s Priorities

Never mind Husso’s third shutout of the season on Wednesday, or the fact that Detroit has a very capable tandem with Alex Nedeljkovic working in.

Just in case, Yzerman went out and brought Magnus Hellberg back through waivers. Head coach Derek Lalonde relayed Yzerman’s exact words following the game Wednesday.

“That’s not something we talked about as a group,” Lalonde said about Yzerman’s choice to claim Hellberg. “His exact words were, ‘We have a lot of hockey coming up. We have a roster spot.’ I think it gives us another option if one of our two goalies here goes down.”

Whether Yzerman himself buys into the Thanksgiving Day marker being playoff indicators no one knows for sure. But a move like this shows that Detroit’s general manager wants his team to have every opportunity to win should the injury bug begin biting in the crease.

They may not be Stanley Cup contenders yet. It’s still a work in progress. But it’s clear that the expectations are shifting from patience with the process to seeing the process take hold.

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Robert Alpiner

I like the progress of the team so far. It looks like other teams are starting to take notice and that they have to play their best game to beat the Wings. Great to see.

Gordon Cheswick

Great improvement this year! If DRW goes 3-1-1 on the home stand – I have to agree, they have a great chance. Berggren has to stay, Fabbri and Vrana have to get into the line-up. And Ned is as good as gone! NOBODY Carrie’s three goalies!

Tom Rady

Gordon not sure about Ned being gone. I think you still have to keep him because Husso cannot play all the games. I had thought Steve claimed Hellberg so he could send him to Grand Rapids, because they desperately need a goalie as Brattstrom and Okinara are struggling. But now I am not sure. Hellberg has only played six NHL games. Nobody knows if he could be a capable long term backup or not? Thats why you still need Ned. Husso cannot play 65 games. You still need a legit NHL goalie as a backup. Ned can play better and will as the team is playing better now. I am a little confused about what Steve is doing here. It is difficult for Steve to send Hellberg to GR because he would have to clear waivers and its doubtful he would. Unless he somehow made deals with teams not to claim him. I dont know if that is even possible. Stay tuned.

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